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We just came back from our Mediterranean Cruise. We sailed on September 6th on the Gem. I will separate the review into two sections, the ship experience and the ports. First the ship experience. It is a fairly new ship with a small atrium and chopped up little public areas. We thought we had booked a date after children had gone back to school but in Europe children go back to school the 3rd week of September so the cruise was filled with families with children. This made getting any where near the pool impossible. NCL has a policy against saving chairs around the pool but they don't enforce it so the entire trip I was never able to get a seat near the pool. I had to spend the money to get a spa pass so i could use the hydro theray pool in the spa. it was a nice quiet space that didn't allow children and had plenty of seating. the spa pass cost $99 for the entire cruise or $169 for a couple. I resent spending this money just so i could have a quiet space but it was necessary. the hydro pool was wonderful after a long day of sightseeing in the ports. NCL advertises freestyle cruising but it comes at a cost. You have to pay an upcharge at most of the restaurants and then on top of that they charge extra for some of the best dishes in those restaurants. On this cruise we tried La Cucina on the first night. The service was a mess and the food was ok. On the last night we went to Cagneys and the service was much better and the food was very good. This is the most expensive restaurant on the ship but worth the up charge. My only quibble with Cagneys is the seating. The chairs are the most uncomfortable chairs for extended dinning. When you first sit down you will notice most of the diners are sitting forward on their chairs. after a while you will know why. (yes I know that it is a small thing but did anyone from NCL sit on those chairs before they purchased them?). The main dinning room, Grand Pacific was very nice but it was often crowded at later times in the evening. They have a beeper system so you can wander around the ship while you wait. The only problem is that most people wait around the entrance to the restaurant and spill over into the bars around both dinning rooms making the whole area impassable. Magenta is the smaller dinning room and it seemed to be overly popular and often had crowds even though it served the same food as the main dinning room. The buffet area is too small for a ship this size. There are too many people trying to eat in this small space that they have packed with way too many tables so it is next to impossible to squeeze through the space. They really need double the space. The one great find is the Blue Lagoon. It is the 24 hour restaurant on the ship and it usually wasn't crowded and it had great fish and chips (and mushy peas). Our stateroom was a mini suite with a balcony. The room was compact with too much furniture ( a recurring theme on this ship) so it was hard to walk around. the closet space was good but the one of the beds was in front of the doors so it was hard to get in and out of the closet. the bathroom was nice and spacious. The balcony was nice but it could have used a couple of lounge chairs so we could utilise it mor. It only had 2 small chairs so it was not conducive for laying there and reading a book. overall though the room was fairly nice. Embarkation and disembarkation were easy and efficient. The lines moved quickly but beware that they do let you on the ship before 2:00pm but the rooms aren't ready until then so if you carry your luggage on you will have to lug it around with you. Of course everyone congregates in the buffet area so it is a madhouse. Another issue that I had with the cruise is the constant "upselling" that they do. Every where you go they try and sell you something. It gets very annoying after awhile. An example, I would order a glass of wine and they always tried to sell you the bottle instead. NCL really needs to lighten up on the hard sell. The ports are great. Don't listen to all of the scare tactics that NCL tries to do so that you buy their overpriced tours. We connected with people on the message boards and rearranged our own tours. We used miles and miles in Italy and had a great experience. In Malta you can get off the ship and walk to the town but it is a steep climb up. There is a tour bus usually waiting at port and it cost 12 euros or we took a 2 hour tour with a taxi (there are many waiting at the port) for 50 Euros and it was great. It was just the 2 of us and the driver took us all around the island. Malta is beautiful and worth exploring. The average price of an NCL tour was around $100 each, definitely not worth the price. As I said in Italy we used Miles and Miles. In Naples it is a must to see Pompeii. We also did the Amalfi Coast which is so beautiful. The Naples for 16 of us was 57 Euros each which was much less than NCL and personalized to what we wanted to see. In Rome we took a tour to the Etruscan tombs and the town of Tarquinia. This was a great alternative to going into Rome since we had already been to Rome. In Florence there is so much to see. Our tour was 80 Euros each and we spent the entire day exploring Florence, Lucca and Pisa. One day is definitely not enough time. In Cannes we didn't do a tour because by this time we were so exhausted from all of the other tours. At this port you have to tender. Wait until all of the crowds go ashore so that the tender lines have subsided. we just walked around Cannes. It is pretty but nothing special. Many peole go to Nice and Monte Carlo (but the tours usually get you there so early that nothing is open in Monte Carlo at that time). Overall, I would say that the ports are wonderful but I am not sure I would choose NCL again. I have been on NCL many times before but this time the ship felt way too crowded. The push to sell you at every turn was so intense. The pool was unusable because of the crowds. I found I spent my time on ship trying to find an uncrowded and quiet space.

Not Quite A Gem

Norwegian Gem Cruise Review by jimabbe

Trip Details
We just came back from our Mediterranean Cruise. We sailed on September 6th on the Gem. I will separate the review into two sections, the ship experience and the ports. First the ship experience. It is a fairly new ship with a small atrium and chopped up little public areas. We thought we had booked a date after children had gone back to school but in Europe children go back to school the 3rd week of September so the cruise was filled with families with children. This made getting any where near the pool impossible. NCL has a policy against saving chairs around the pool but they don't enforce it so the entire trip I was never able to get a seat near the pool. I had to spend the money to get a spa pass so i could use the hydro theray pool in the spa. it was a nice quiet space that didn't allow children and had plenty of seating. the spa pass cost $99 for the entire cruise or $169 for a couple. I resent spending this money just so i could have a quiet space but it was necessary. the hydro pool was wonderful after a long day of sightseeing in the ports. NCL advertises freestyle cruising but it comes at a cost. You have to pay an upcharge at most of the restaurants and then on top of that they charge extra for some of the best dishes in those restaurants. On this cruise we tried La Cucina on the first night. The service was a mess and the food was ok. On the last night we went to Cagneys and the service was much better and the food was very good. This is the most expensive restaurant on the ship but worth the up charge. My only quibble with Cagneys is the seating. The chairs are the most uncomfortable chairs for extended dinning. When you first sit down you will notice most of the diners are sitting forward on their chairs. after a while you will know why. (yes I know that it is a small thing but did anyone from NCL sit on those chairs before they purchased them?). The main dinning room, Grand Pacific was very nice but it was often crowded at later times in the evening. They have a beeper system so you can wander around the ship while you wait. The only problem is that most people wait around the entrance to the restaurant and spill over into the bars around both dinning rooms making the whole area impassable. Magenta is the smaller dinning room and it seemed to be overly popular and often had crowds even though it served the same food as the main dinning room. The buffet area is too small for a ship this size. There are too many people trying to eat in this small space that they have packed with way too many tables so it is next to impossible to squeeze through the space. They really need double the space. The one great find is the Blue Lagoon. It is the 24 hour restaurant on the ship and it usually wasn't crowded and it had great fish and chips (and mushy peas).
Our stateroom was a mini suite with a balcony. The room was compact with too much furniture ( a recurring theme on this ship) so it was hard to walk around. the closet space was good but the one of the beds was in front of the doors so it was hard to get in and out of the closet. the bathroom was nice and spacious. The balcony was nice but it could have used a couple of lounge chairs so we could utilise it mor. It only had 2 small chairs so it was not conducive for laying there and reading a book. overall though the room was fairly nice.
Embarkation and disembarkation were easy and efficient. The lines moved quickly but beware that they do let you on the ship before 2:00pm but the rooms aren't ready until then so if you carry your luggage on you will have to lug it around with you. Of course everyone congregates in the buffet area so it is a madhouse.
Another issue that I had with the cruise is the constant "upselling" that they do. Every where you go they try and sell you something. It gets very annoying after awhile. An example, I would order a glass of wine and they always tried to sell you the bottle instead. NCL really needs to lighten up on the hard sell.
The ports are great. Don't listen to all of the scare tactics that NCL tries to do so that you buy their overpriced tours. We connected with people on the message boards and rearranged our own tours. We used miles and miles in Italy and had a great experience. In Malta you can get off the ship and walk to the town but it is a steep climb up. There is a tour bus usually waiting at port and it cost 12 euros or we took a 2 hour tour with a taxi (there are many waiting at the port) for 50 Euros and it was great. It was just the 2 of us and the driver took us all around the island. Malta is beautiful and worth exploring. The average price of an NCL tour was around $100 each, definitely not worth the price. As I said in Italy we used Miles and Miles. In Naples it is a must to see Pompeii. We also did the Amalfi Coast which is so beautiful. The Naples for 16 of us was 57 Euros each which was much less than NCL and personalized to what we wanted to see. In Rome we took a tour to the Etruscan tombs and the town of Tarquinia. This was a great alternative to going into Rome since we had already been to Rome. In Florence there is so much to see. Our tour was 80 Euros each and we spent the entire day exploring Florence, Lucca and Pisa. One day is definitely not enough time. In Cannes we didn't do a tour because by this time we were so exhausted from all of the other tours. At this port you have to tender. Wait until all of the crowds go ashore so that the tender lines have subsided. we just walked around Cannes. It is pretty but nothing special. Many peole go to Nice and Monte Carlo (but the tours usually get you there so early that nothing is open in Monte Carlo at that time).
Overall, I would say that the ports are wonderful but I am not sure I would choose NCL again. I have been on NCL many times before but this time the ship felt way too crowded. The push to sell you at every turn was so intense. The pool was unusable because of the crowds. I found I spent my time on ship trying to find an uncrowded and quiet space.
jimabbe’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Mini-Suite with Balcony
Cabin MB 11022
Great location on the ship with great views as we eneterd the ports. The space in the room was tight and the closet was blocked by the bed. the bathroom was nice and had plenty of room.
Deck 11 Inside Cabins, Suite Cabins